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Discount stores topped holiday shopping destinations, plus more post-holiday takeaways

January 22, 2021

Despite the pandemic and resulting economic turmoil, sales at retail brick-and-mortar stores grew 3.6 percent in the holiday season — November and December. Including e-commerce and food services, holiday sales climbed 4 percent. Consumers spent a total of $857.4 billion, according to advance non-seasonally adjusted estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sales at building materials and garden supply stores grew 19 percent year over year for November and December to $71.6 billion as more consumers sought to improve their homes. Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores grew 15.2 percent to $19.3 billion as consumers found ways to entertain themselves at home. And as expected, e-commerce surged exponentially. Electronic shopping and mail order sales increased 25.4 percent to $190.9 billion in the November-December time frame.

RELATED: Watch the recent ICSC Connect Virtual Series, 2020 Holiday Season Recap

4 takeaways from ICSC’s Post-Holiday consumer survey of 1,005 consumers conducted between Jan. 4 and 6

  • Physical stores were the venues of choice for shoppers. Even when holiday shoppers placed orders online, many wanted to pick up the merchandise at stores. Seventy-nine percent spent money on holiday items in a physical store, 44 percent spent online and picked up in a physical store and 43 percent spent online with a physical retailer and had the order shipped home. Sixty-two percent spent with Amazon.
  • Discount department stores were the physical shopping venue of choice. Sixty-four percent of holiday shoppers purchased at discount department stores like Target and Walmart, 31 percent bought at traditional department stores like Belk and Macy’s and 22 percent spent at dollar/variety/off-price stores like Dollar General and Big Lots.
  • Consumers continue to embrace omnichannel shopping. Ninety-one percent of holiday shoppers embraced omnichannel retailers and made purchases in a retail store and/or online from brick-and-mortar retailer’s website. Sixty-eight percent used smartphones when making online purchases.
  • Value remains a major motivator for holiday shoppers. Forty-one percent decided where to shop based on prices and promotions.

By Brannon Boswell

Executive Editor, Commerce + Communities Today

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